President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga yesterday exposed a joint conspiracy by the UNP and the JVP to destabilise the country and the Government through wildcat strikes and anarchy. She set the nation's mind at rest last night in a live question and answer session on the 'Janamandalee' TV programme on Rupavahini.
Speaking on the escalating cost of living President Kumaratunga gave two main reasons for the steep rise in the cost of living. They are the escalation of fuel prices in the recent past with a barrel of oil that cost US $ 10 rising more than three times, to US $ 35 per barrel within one year. The other reason for the rise in the cost of living is the unprecedented expansion in procuring armaments and modern weaponry for the war with the LTTE. She said that oil prices have come down to around US$ 25 a barrel and if this trend continues, the Government will be able to recover the losses and bring about an appreciable reduction in oil prices.
On the fear expressed by some quarters that Sri Lanka is not receiving any more foreign aid, the President said that such talk was far from the truth. She said there was overwhelming support and aid from the Sri Lanka Development Forum and above all an appreciation of the steps taken by the Government in tackling recent economic issues. A very strong commitment was made by the Forum towards the development efforts of the PA Government.
Allaying the fears of the people on the floating rate of exchange, the President admitted that at the initial stages there is bound to be a drop in the value of the rupee and some inflationary effects but that within the next few weeks exchange stability will set in and things will return to normal. The President also reminded the people about the promise made by the UNP at the last General Election in their party manifesto not only to float the rupee, but also even to go to the dangerous extent of removing all controls on the Capital Account.
Her Excellency said that there was a conspiracy to destabilise the economy and the Government and stressed that the Government would take necessary action to counter it, while democratic freedom is preserved.
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